Much as ever, the day begins with another battle. Not any old battle, mind you, because this is 490 BC, which can only mean one thing: the good old Battle of Marathon – and lose ten points all those of you who just muttered, “Now known as the Battle of Snickers.”
Probably more famous than the battle itself are the legends that surround it, the main one being, of course, that of the messenger, Pheidippides, running to Athens with news of the victory, though other versions have it that he was sent from Athens before the battle to get reinforcements from Sparta, some one hundred and forty miles away, arriving the next day (energised, no doubt, by tasty peanut-flavoured confectionary bars) but then promptly dropping dead of exhaustion. Hope he managed to get the message out first, after all that. On his way there, or on his way back, depending on who you believe, Pan is supposed to have appeared to him and said, “Here, why aren’t you Greeks revering me, then?” To which the reply was, “All right then, we will from now on, mate.” This promise was good enough for Pan, who then appeared on the battlefield and instilled in the Persians the very brand of mindless frenzied fear that he gave his name to: Panic.
The Greeks did later establish a grotto to Pan at the Acropolis but, being fickle, they’d hedged their bets rather and asked Artemis the Huntress to help out too, offering to sacrifice as many goats to her afterwards as the number of Persians that got slain in the battle. Once the final count up of the dead was known - 6,400 Persians, 192 Athenians and 11 Plataeans (mates of the Athenians) – there had to be a bit of a rethink, along the lines of “Where’re we going to get that many goats from?” settling instead on an annual five hundred until they’d fulfilled the bargain. It is recorded that they were still slaughtering ‘em ninety years later.
Back with Gatling, he got smallpox, which made him interested enough in medicine to get an MD, though he never practised, being more into the inventing lark and thus went to the other extreme by concentrating on firearms. In 1861, with perfect timing for the Civil War that had just started, he invented his eponymous gun, having noticed that most soldiers in the conflict were being lost to disease rather than to gunshots, so he determined to put that right straight away. It was, therefore, for purely medical reasons that he came up with the idea, arguing that, “if a machine could enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, this would supersede the necessity of large armies, and thus battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” Well, certainly, if everyone’s already been shot to pieces by your gun.
Well, we seem to have no room left to even mention that today in 1878 saw the erection of Cleopatra’s Needle in London, which is one of a pair with the one in New York (imagine the size of the mantelpiece you’d need!) or that there’s a time capsule buried underneath it, containing (amongst other things) a copy of Whitaker's Almanack, a Bradshaw Railway Guide, a map of London and a set of twelve photographs of … “the best looking English women of the day.” It was supposed to be a gift to celebrate Nelson’s victory on the Nile.
Lascaux Cave Paintings were discovered. By a dog called Robot, actually. And closed again in 2008, thanks to all the sweaty visitors and boffins turning them mouldy. They last for seventeen thousand years and then along we come. So we’ll just give a passing nod to the biggest ever score in first class football, which was in 1885 when Arbroath beat the unfortunately named Bon Accord (who didn’t even turn up with any proper kit) by 36-0, the ref disallowing five more (possibly seven, according to the man in black himself) for offside. In Madagascar, AS Adema did beat Stade Olymique L'Emyrne by 149-0 but this hardly counts, as they were all deliberate own-goals, scored as a protest against a refereeing decision. Sometimes that’s what it takes to really get your point across …
"Greek Phalanx". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greek_Phalanx.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Greek_Phalanx.jpg
"Pan satyre della Valle" by User:Jastrow, 2004. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pan_satyre_della_Valle.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Pan_satyre_della_Valle.jpg
"Last Voyage Of Henry Hudson" by John Collier - l. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Last_Voyage_Of_Henry_Hudson.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Last_Voyage_Of_Henry_Hudson.jpg
"Irvington statue of Rip van Winkle" by Daryl Samuel - Own work. Via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Irvington_statue_of_Rip_van_Winkle.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Irvington_statue_of_Rip_van_Winkle.jpg
"William Bourne Inventions or devices 1578" by William_Bourne, in "Inventions or Devices" - Own photograph at the Musee des Sciences de la Vilette, Paris. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Bourne_Inventions_or_devices_1578.jpg#mediaviewer/File:William_Bourne_Inventions_or_devices_1578.jpg
"Richard Jordan Gatling". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Jordan_Gatling.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Richard_Jordan_Gatling.jpg